Reviews

Curious Expedition 2

Adventurers and explorers will be happy to know Maschinen-Mensch and Thunderful Games have partnered to release Curious Expedition 2. The second installment of the Curious Expedition series is a turn-based roguelike with a humorous narrative. If you enjoyed the Renowned Explorers: International Society game and yearn to find something similar to scratch that adventurous itch, this might be the game you are looking for.

It is 1886 and the famous Paris World Fair is just around the corner. In three years time the fair will be in full swing. Three years might seems like a long time, but the Explorer’s Club are looking to unearth the best and rarest artifacts to wow the crowd at this fair. They are funding your expedition. In taking part in these expeditions, you will visit remote places in some of the most beautiful corners of the world. You will meet with the indigenous people and face danger like never before all while searching for unique and priceless treasures for your patrons. However you have to be cautious or you could lose your sanity… or face a much worse fate.

If you have played the first Curious Expedition, you will be pleasantly surprised at the new enhanced artwork. Compared to the rudimentary graphics of the first game, these upgraded graphics are a major improvement while still keeping the same singular indie style that was so endearing. The graphics are made in a colorful and quirky style. They are less static than the earlier ones and are decidedly more engaging. The graphics and the map also look a lot more detailed. In the first installment you could barely make out the characters, but the improvements in Curious Expedition 2 are tremendous. I especially love the vibrantly colored artworks in the exploration scenes and the specific details on each scene. It gives each location an intriguing look.

Curious Expedition places you in the 19th century and the settings you will visit are a good attempt at recreating an earlier timeline. However it is not supposed to be serious so the fictitious tribes you will encounter are caricatures of their real life counterparts. Curious Expedition 2 has a humorous narrative. Nonetheless it is not the type of story you will get deeply immersed in. It is meant to be light and fun. Each island is procedurally generated so every playthrough is unique. It gives Curious Expedition 2 a high level of replayability although it does eventually get a bit repetitive.

The developers have done a fantastic job of creating an in-depth tutorial. Even though it is not a complicated game, it is nice to have a basic understanding of the mechanics before starting. The tutorial consists of a mini-expedition. You arrive on a small island and while exploring it, you are taught the foundations. After finishing this particularly complete tutorial, you will definitely be ready to begin playing in earnest.

First you have to build your team. You will initially be given a choice between two team members. The decision will influence your experience so you have to choose wisely. As an example the first choice is between an anthropologist and a big game hunter and as you can see both are very different. I was hoping an anthropologist would help when having contact with new tribes. At least that is the idea. Unfortunately it did not seem to make that much of a difference ultimately. Nevertheless there are some specific perks and attributes to each character. Once your team is complete, you have to decide on a sponsor to finance your expedition. After all traveling to far-off countries can get quite expensive.

Now that we are all set with our team and a sponsor, it is time to go scout some shiny treasures. Each expedition is on a distinct island. Initially the map is covered with fog. As you advance on the map the fog will slowly clear and the map will become visible. The goal is to find the best and rarest artifact to bring back to your sponsor for their exhibit.

Every time you travel on the map it will cost you some sanity. The sanity is used as a currency of sorts. The player must keep insanity at bay. The sanity gauge will let you know when it is time to replenish it which is done by eating chocolate and whatever you find or trade. You can even refill it by drinking… mostly whiskey. It is more cost efficient to go further instead of stopping in the middle. It is an interesting and novel mechanic, but the gauge gets depleted fast. It ends up being more of a chore than a fun addition which is too bad because I like the concept. It is a clever way of forcing the player to move strategically, but then again the whole purpose of Curious Expedition is to explore the land so it seems counterproductive to have to limit the locations you can visit. I often found myself wanting to explore further only to realize I did not have enough sanity left. It could easily be remedied by changing the “cost” of traveling to better reflect the amount you receive by eating or drinking.

I enjoyed the thrill of meeting new characters and tribes. There are so many odd and unusual characters to meet on your journey and each is more interesting than the last. It truly is a curious expedition! The developers did an excellent job of making the different locations completely different from each other using only colors and looks. It truly felt like traveling to different places. I relished discovering new tribes and had fun reading the different dialogues. The narrative, humorous dialogues like the campfire’s chatter and the quirky often surprising outcomes turned out to be one of the highlights of Curious Expedition 2.

The fights are battled using sets of dice. They are also used to resolve other kinds of situations you will come across. Back to the fighting, the dice are a fun and original mechanic to spice up the traditional turn-based battle. I say original because they are not regular dice. Each one of your team’s protagonist has his own dice that reflects their occupation, skill, equipment, etc. In a battle the roll of the dice will determine the damage dealt to the enemy and status effects, basically the standard stuff. It adds a sense of excitement, but at the same time it leaves a lot of the fight to chance and less to skills. Overall though I thought the battles were quite entertaining even though chance plays such a large part in them.

Curious Expedition 2 is a quirky, humorous and enjoyable roguelike. I loved the concept and it boasts some awesome comic style artwork. There is a great sense of adventure when playing it. The narrative and dialogues are witty and help to balance the sometimes harsh and unforgiving gameplay. Still I would have liked if the characters and their stories would have had more depth to them. The islands are procedurally generated giving Curious Expedition some replayability, but it can get repetitive over time. The game is still a good value for the price tag and you will get several hours of amusement out of it. While there are some improvement I would like to see implemented, it is still a great game that deserves to be discovered. Curious Expedition 2 will definitely please both fans of roguelike games and all of the adventurers out there.

Written by Vee